It's time for my financial review, where I talk about which cards to buy and sell from the new set. This also serves as my strategy set review for every Rare and Mythic Rare in the set, so even if you're not all about making money, there is a lot of insight to be gained as to which cards I believe are the best cards in the set and why. The two main goals of the article are (1) to assist you in making more informed decisions about your investments, and (2) to offer strategy advice to inspire your deck building with the new cards.
As a note of caution, even if a card declines in value, if you're gaining use out of it by playing with it in your deck, it still might be an overall good investment for you. Therefore, don't hesitate to buy any cards if you have a deck idea and want to use the card. I'm strictly speaking of what I see the card's financial future to be when I say to buy/sell it. Several of the cards I say to sell I expect to see play and be good cards – I just see the current price as being too high.
Nicol Bolas seems like a great sideboard card against control decks. Against aggro it looks atrocious since it will basically be seven mana to kill a creature. Against decks where the first two abilities are more relevant, this will often be the best card in the matchup. If the metagame proves to be devoid of aggro decks, I could see this spiking, but otherwise I'll pass. Really cool Commander card though too! I'll sell at $18.
There are too many exile effects in Standard for me to like the Gods. In matchups where the removal all destroys, I could see some of them being good. This one works especially well with cards on the battlefield that draw cards, enabling you to get some value out of it the turn you play it. Six mana is a lot though and the payoff doesn't quite feel high enough to make it worth it. I'm selling this $6 as long as Torrential Gearhulk exists in Standard.
I don't see this making it into tribal Zombie decks since Liliana's Mastery is more powerful and I don't think the deck wants more five-drops, especially at the expense of splashing a second color. I could see this making it into a Sultai midrange deck though, especially one that can discard or self-mill creatures into the graveyard that have relevant abilities. Five mana for a 5/5 is not a terrible rate, especially when you get to make a 4/4 each subsequent turn. $9 seems a bit steep on this one, although I believe the card is playable.
There are plenty of cards in Standard that place -1/-1 counters on creatures, and a 6/5 for five is not bad, but I suspect Glorybringer will almost always be a better option in whatever deck is thinking about playing this card. I'll pass on paying $5 for this as long as I can play Glorybringer instead.
The ultimate is really powerful, but it takes a few turns to get there. I think the key for making this card work will be utilizing the double strike ability to good effect. The second ability is over-costed and really the ultimate is the payoff, so if somehow you can make the double strike bonus do work in your deck, this card could be good. Otherwise it feels really weak. I can't remember a planeswalker starting out so low, but I'm not even buying at $4.
Now we're talking! As long as you have a sufficient amount of lifegain sources in your deck, this card will win a game in very short order. Lifelink creatures will be at a premium, especially ones with vigilance that can threaten to block and create another horse on the opponent's end step. None of the horses are legendary either, so if you play a second copy of Crested Sunmare, they make each other indestructible. I'm skeptical it will see play in Modern, but it works really well with Auriok Champion. This could very well prove to be the next Wingmate Roc! The one downside, which is admittedly big, is that it competes with Archangel Avacyn, Angel of Sanctions, and Regal Caracal. Why don't they make one of these creatures cost four mana instead? I'll hesitate to buy at $4.
I really hope this card is good because its Fact or Fiction ability is one of the most skill-testing abilities in Standard. Making your other Sphinx spells cost less mana is also a nice ability in conjunction with Curator of Mysteries. Since each Sphinx triggers the ability, you'll be able to often find more sphinx spells and essentially chain them together at a low cost. You can also play Jwar Isle Sphinx for just one mana if you played another spell this turn. Other Sphinx cards in standard include: Glyph Keeper, Guardian of Tazeem, Sphinx of the Final Word, and even Sphinx of Magosi from the event deck. Unfortunately, Torrential Gearhulk exists and is the better blue six-drop. Not buying now, even at $1, but I may reconsider when the Gearhulk rotates.
The stats on this card are very powerful! You get a huge flying trampler with a very useless ability that can be activated at any time for a reasonably low cost. It's no Griselbrand, but it doesn't need to be. As long as you have two life points and another creature on the battlefield, you can even respond to a removal spell by searching out another copy (or any other card in your deck). I can't imagine beating this card once you untap with it, so it might even see play in a Black-Green Ramp deck as the premier card to find. I think we're supposed to sell at $7, but keep in mind this is Craig Wescoe evaluating a large black demon.
I could see Neheb being a sweet midgame play in a ramp deck trying to get to Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Just by attacking with the Zombie Minotaur Warrior you get three to four mana post-combat, which almost puts you all the way to Ulamog on its own. I don't see any of the three tribal affiliations being relevant to this card, which makes it strange that they included all three. I'm buying at $2 as I think ramp decks are poised to take off!
Very good in a tokens deck, especially one that involves flying tokens. Five mana is a lot to pay for a creature that only attacks and blocks and that additionally needs support to be good, but the card is out of control when all the factors line up. I'm skeptical, but if Nissa is making Plant Tokens and your others cards are also token producers, this could be a trump card in certain matchups. I'm not buying at $3, but I'm keeping an eye on it.
In my humble opinion, this card costs too much for its ability to see serious constructed play and is not worth $3. I hope I'm not humiliated when it wins the Pro Tour.
Pay thee mana to tutor up a one-drop? Pass. Pay four mana to search up a pair of two-drops? Pass unless I have nothing else to do on my turn. Pay five mana to search up a trio of three-drops? Yeah, I would do that as long as I'm not dead on board for not impacting the board this turn. Pay six mana for four four-drops? That sounds a bit like overkill, but even if you don't have enough four-drops left in your library you can just fail to find the fourth one and that seems fine. You can also find creature cards that cycle. Overall, I think this could be a one-of main deck and a potentially potent sideboard card in attrition matchups and not unreasonable to build a value midrange deck that utilizes this card as both a toolbox and as a value engine to pull ahead in the late game. It feels similar to Seasons Past but with modes that allow you to cast it for less mana. I'm buying at $3!
Dreamstealer is the new Hypnotic Specter. On its own it's a fine value card, but this card really needs to be paired with pump spells. This is the best target for Verdurous Gearhulk since Walking Ballista. Turn four Mind Twist is a very powerful effect in today's world of value engines backed by five and six-drops. I'm definitely buying at $.30!
Champion of Wits is a solid three-drop in Sultai type decks that want to put cards into the graveyard. It reminds me of Seagate Oracle in that it fills a role that often will involve blocking the turn after it is cast. I'll buy at $.75.
Adorned Pouncer is a solid two-drop, but white isn't exactly lacking in that department currently, though it's yet another creature that attacks for four on the third turn when paired with Always Watching. I'm medium on this one.
As long as you have green one-drops, I like Resilient Khenra a lot as I'm a sucker for value creatures. Unfortunately green doesn't have a lot of those. $.40 is the right price, but I wouldn't invest in more than a playset.
Earthshaker Khenra might see play in an aggressive mono-red deck, providing a bit of non-burn reach with the eternalize ability while providing a reasonable body on the second turn that fits with the game plan. It's not a terrible buy at $.65 but I'm investing elsewhere.
I think Driven to Despair is the only playable rare split card in the set, perhaps excepting Grind to Dust. Being able to hit the opponent, draw cards, and have them discard is like a one-time Sword of Feast and Famine use for all of your creatures. This card has the potential to really swing some games as long as you have enough creatures in your deck. I'm buying Driven to Despair at $.40 and selling the rest.
The red one looks great since it essentially wraths the board and also kills or almost kills the planeswalkers. I expect it to see the most play of the five, especially in non-white decks that don't have access to Fumigate. I'm buying Hour of Devastation at $2.50.
The white one is good anytime you can cast it for three mana, but even at six mana it is reasonable. I think destroying all permanents is more useful than exiling all creatures, and the upside of costing three mana is bigger than the upside of getting an Angel Token if you have delirium, so I think it is the best six-mana wrath in Standard. I'm buying Hour of Revelation at $.75.
The green one seems interesting since it can get any lands, but I suspect it's only good with Deserts since the rate is just way too low without making Zombies reliably. When you get Zombies, it's actually pretty reasonable since they can block and buy time to cast whatever you are ramping into. I could see this being good alongside Gift of Paradise, which also buys time, and Beneath the Sands, which cycles to find action after you already have your lands. At $1 I could see it going either way, but I'm more inclined to sell since it competes at five mana with Neheb, the Eternal in a ramp deck.
For the black one, I don't expect the God clause to come up much since not many of the Gods are playable, but sometimes you need to exile a creature in black and at least it's an instant. Selling Hour of Glory at $.40.
The blue one just seems like too much work to make good. Selling Hour of Eternity at $1.
I've saved the best cycle for last…
The black one is great for Modern where the format is much faster than Standard, although I also expect the card to see plenty of play in Standard since the effect is so powerful compared to the cost. Even just at face value where you skip your next untap step, it is good enough, and it's even better if you have ways to mitigate that drawback. Buying Bontu's Last Reckoning at $2.50 and expecting it to be worth at least four times what it's worth now in five years because of its strength in Modern.
The green one is a strong second-turn play and a strong fourth or fifth turn play while holding up removal or countermagic. It dodges Abrade but not Fatal Push. I could go either way on this one since $2 is a lot.
The white one is a good sideboard card against burn decks or against aggro in general, especially if you can establish a board presence. It's also unbeatable in a lot of matches if cast the turn after you play Crested Sunmare. I'll buy at $.65 on Oketra's Last Mercy.
I'm a little surprised the red one doesn't cost four mana and look at the top six cards, but I guess the third time is the charm and they finally learned from Collected Company and Aetherworks Marvel. As is, the card feels underpowered for six mana. Selling at $1 on Hazoret's Undying Fury.
As far as I can tell, the blue one is mostly a worse version of Confiscation Coup. What kind of name is Kefnet anyway? Is it supposed to be a god or an Internet server? Selling Kefnet's Last Word at $1.
This one may not be part of a cycle, but it is part of a cycling deck! I could see this being good in a Drake Haven deck since there will be games where you don't draw Drake Haven and you need to gain some value from your cards. Maybe it takes too much setup to work, though. I could see this one going either way, but I'm down on it, even at just $1. Instead of casting spells from the graveyard, you'd likely rather keep cycling until you find Drake Haven.
Have we finally arrived at time where a Browbeat-type card is playable? There is no shortage of people claiming this card is good, so either they have each fallen victim to the age old Browbeat trap of card misevaluation or this one finally breaks the mold. I think it could be good in an aggressive deck, serving as a Profane Command-esque finisher. It seems terrible in any deck that doesn't pressure the opponent's life total. At $2 I'm selling as I suspect it won't work out.
This looks like a great casual card for everyone's favorite mill decks and I'm absolutely buying at $1. The Hedron Crab approves of this offering!
Playable, but unlikely to make any huge splashes. Likely only useful in a desert deck as a one-of, so not worth $1. Sell.
Finally the long-awaiting card to pair with Gate to the Afterlife! The combo does actually seem quite powerful and the two cards do work well together since the gate discards creature cards for the gift to eternalize. I don't know exactly what such a deck would look like, but I wouldn't rule it out as unplayable. I'm buying at $.45 just in case someone breaks it.
In Standard this seems reasonable, especially with the deserts that cycle and also with Evolving Wilds, but where I expect it to really shine is in Modern where you have fetches and Ghost Quarters. I'm selling at $5, but I want my playset for Modern.
This is the type of card that people will always find ways to utilize and I expect it will go into several Commander decks for one reason or another, as well as some Modern decks. I therefore expect it to retain long-term value. I think it will drop from $5 to around $2 or $3 before rising again, so I would sell now and rebuy later. Five years from now this will likely be one of the most expensive cards in the set, likely alongside Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh.
I'm not super high on this card, but it generates value and is reasonably sized. At $1.50 I'm tempted to buy, but I'm instead selling. It doesn't look like it fits anywhere except cat tribal, which does not look like a tier one deck.
I really want this card to be good since it does so many things I want my creatures to do. Unfortunately, it's quite fragile, dying to most removal spells in the format, and unlike some of the other four and five-drops of the format, this one doesn't leave you with residual value when killed immediately. So in most cases I expect this card to simply trade down in mana for a cheaper removal spell and thereby lose value on the exchange. It also competes for space with Gisela, the Broken Blade – a card that already sees only fringe play. I hate to say it and I hope I'm wrong, but I'm selling at $1.
Reasonably costed creature that is hard to defeat in combat without generating value for its controller, but it really only attacks or blocks, which limits its applications. $2.25 is a bit too high. I would have bought at $1.50. This one has potential to increase in value though.
I'm selling at $4. I think BBD said it best:
It might see some play, but unlikely to hit it big. $2.50 feels like an easy sell.
Unless there is some combo with this that I'm unaware of, I'm selling at $2.50
Might see play in a desert deck, but I'm definitely selling at $1.
Likely to see some amount of play in a desert deck, but too hard to turn on elsewhere. Selling at $1.
Might see some play in decks that can cheat it into play from the graveyard or perhaps in a ramp deck, but seven is a lot and only deals three damage. Most decks will prefer Hour of Devastation. Sell at $.50.
Unless you're holding Cruel Ultimatum, I'd sell this at $.50. I suspect it will soon join Cruel Ultimatum in the bulk box.
Maybe as a Dread Return target in a Legacy/Vintage dredge deck? Who cares? Sell.
The stats on this snake are actually not that bad, but it only looks good in a committed desert deck. I'm selling at $.50 but could see it doubling up to $1 if the deck ends up being good.
Neat concept, but I'm skeptical anyone can make it work. Sell.
Cool card, but there are at least four five-drop white creatures in front of this one. Sell.
It would not be intelligent to invest in this pile of excrement unless you are a swarm of flies.
Cards I would invest in for profit as I believe they have the biggest potential to awaken as sleepers:
Uncage the Menagerie at $3
Bontu's Last Reckoning at $2.50
Hour of Devastation at $2.50
Neheb, the Eternal at $2
Fraying Sanity at $1
Champion of Wits at $.75
Hour of Revelation at $.75
Oketra's Last Mercy at $.65
God-Pharaoh's Gift at $.45
Driven to Despair at $.40
Dreamstealer at $.30
Happy investing and have fun at your Prerelease!